From Synapse to Self: Spikes, Synchrony, and Attentive Learning by Laminar Thalamocortical Circuits
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How do our brains transform the "blooming buzzing confusion" of daily experience into a coherent sense of self that can learn and selectively attend to important information? How do local signals at multiple processing stages, none of which has a global view of brain dynamics or behavioral outcomes, trigger learning at multiple synaptic sites when appropriate, and prevent learning when inappropriate, to achieve useful behavioral goals in a continually changing world? How does the brain allow synaptic plasticity at a remarkably rapid rate, as anyone who has gone to an exciting movie is readily aware, yet also protect useful memories from catastrophic forgetting? A neural model provides a unified answer by explaining and quantitatively simulating data about single cell biophysics and neurophysiology, laminar neuroanatomy, aggregate cell recordings (current-source densities, local field potentials), large-scale oscillations (beta, gamma), and spike-timing dependent plasticity, and functionally linking them all to cognitive information processing requirements.